My mom and dad went to college in Florida. Bible college.
It was the early 1950's.
Mom told me the story of how my father ~ then a young seminary student ~ chastised her in the back aisle of a small-town drug store when she leaned over a fountain to get a drink of water. "Stop! That's the colored's water fountain!!" he had hissed at her, grabbing her arm.
She said it was the first time she ever saw hatred in his eyes.
I grew up surrounded by people who disliked other races.
They also disliked Catholics and gypsies and lawyers.
But mostly they hated negroes.
It sounds funny to even use that word but to put their feelings into proper context it's the closest I care to use instead of the real "N" word I heard all my life.
Seeds of hate. Seeds of fear. Seeds of distrust.
I was surrounded by people who tossed those seeds into the young and fertile ground of my friends and my siblings and my cousins minds just like a farm wife scatters tiny lettuce seeds into the dirt every spring.
Lucky for me, my mom knew something about gardens.
She knew those were weed seeds and she believed in the power of the hoe.
And hoe she did. Hoe, hoe, hoe.
For every hateful seed sewn into my little mind's garden she relentlessly hacked away at that fertile ground with her hoe. Where hate was pressed into my mind to grow, she loosened the soil and buried even the remote possibility of it's growth with ideas of love and stories of trust.
Faithful to what she believed in, wanting to pass on something better to her children, she tended my garden and love grew.